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2012 Irish Sailing Season Preview

27th March 2012
2012 Irish Sailing Season Preview

A great mix of sailing regattas and maritime festivals  means 2012 will be a bumper year on Irish waters. Here’s 12 for starters....


April 13- Youth Nationals - Dun Laoghaire Dublin

2012 opens with one of the biggest sailing events of the year, the Mitsubishi Youth National Championships on April 13.

Given the fact this Dublin Bay event is also a dress rehearsal for the ISAF Youth Worlds at the same venue, there’s little doubt attendance in Dun Laoghaire will eclipse 300 sailors from across Ireland and beyond.

Racing will be held in the Laser Radial, 420 and 29er, Laser 4.7 and Topper RS Feva and an Optimist Championships will also be held.

The British youth team has confirmed it will be competing, using the test event as a vital build-up for July 12.

Up to 60 Nations for the 42nd  Worlds can be expected in Dun Laoghaire.

The ISAF Youth World Championship is coming to Dublin just two weeks ahead of London’s Olympic Games in 2012.

The venues for the championship will be the Royal St George, National and Royal Irish yacht clubs on Dublin Bay with racing in eight events. The Korean 420 girls (pictured) are expected too.

2012 youthnats


May 25-27 - ICRA Nationals - Howth Yacht Club, Dublin

Any Sailing Club with ambitions of staging the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) National Championships will have to look as far ahead as 2015.

ICRA – the 2011 Club of the Year – laid out its stall until 2014 at the eighth annual conference in Dun Laoghaire at the weekend and the momentum is already building at Howth Yacht Club (HYC) who stage the 2012 National Championships at the beginning of next season.

The country’s biggest yacht club has a potential sponsor in the wings and Saturday’s conference also heard from the Club’s Norbert Reilly that HYC is adding feeder events around the three-day championships from May 25/27 to double the attraction of the North Dublin venue.

The Corby Cup will be sailed the weekend prior to the Nationals (19-20 May) and the Irish sea offshore body, ISORA, will stage a feeder race from Conwy in Wales to Howth. Both initiatives will encourage UK boats to travel to Dublin for the ICRA series.

Typically, the ICRA event attracts over 100 boats in four different classes.

In spite of a dip in the size of the Cruiser fleet in Howth in recent years, local boats are still taking some of the big prizes nationally with Reilly’s Crazy Horse the 2011 Volvo Dun Laoghaire and DBSC Cruiser Challenge winner and Pat Kelly’s J109 Storm picking up the weekend conference’s top ‘Boat of the Year’ prize.

Ashore there are plans to make the event family oriented and a ‘ladies lunch’ is also planned.

The weekend’s ICRA conference decided to do away with the crew limit rule for the seven-race series in Howth as the association focuses on getting more crews out on the water to enjoy cruiser racing.

The ICRA Nationals goes West for a return visit to Tralee Bay Sailing Club in June 2013 and in 2014 the National Championships will be staged by the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

In the normal cycle of things, ‘the ICRAs’ should be heading to the south coast again in 2015 but so far, the conference heard, the association is open to offers.

The 2012 ICRA Notice of Race for the Howth Championships will be available on shortly

2012 icra


June 24 - Round Ireland Yacht Race - Wicklow Sailing Club, Wicklow

Wicklow Sailing Club’s Round Ireland Yacht Race departs from Wicklow Bay at 12 noon on Sunday 24th June 2012, leaving Ireland and all its islands to starboard.

2012 marks the 32nd anniversary of Ireland’s premier off shore sailing event, organised by Wicklow Sailing Club in association with Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC).

It is the longest race in the Royal Ocean Racing Club calendar, comparable to similar Offshore races such as the Fastnet, Malta Middle Sea, Sydney-Hobart and China Sea races.

The first race took place in 1980 with only thirteen boats. Since then, held biennially, the fleet has grown steadily, and up to 60 yachts have competed in some past editions of the race.

The backbone for the 2008 race was Tonnerre de Breskens III, owned by Dutchman Piet Vroon. The crew arrived in Wicklow with a brace of RORC victories, leading RORC’s offshore table, and went into the race as favourites. The first twist in Tonnerre’s plot came before the starter’s gun, when Vroon ended up in hospital, from where he would follow the race as his crew sailed on without him.

However, that would be the only bump in their road. Tonnerre led from start to finish, both on the water and on handicap. Vroon’s crew brought home the trophy for their ailing skipper in the race’s happy ending.

Sailing around Ireland poses many challenges for boats and crew, with open ocean on the south and west coasts, tidal challenges on north and east coasts apart from all the off-lying rocks and sandbanks to keep navigators on their toes and not forgetting the vagaries of the Atlantic weather systems.

This is very much a sailor’s race but armchair spectators can follow the race on their computers, thanks to modern race tracker technology.

A Round Ireland Sail Fest (Thur 21 - Sun 24 June) will complement the race preparations and add a welcome level of fun and entertainment for all coming down to Wicklow for the Race start.

Round Ireland classes
IRC Class CK – 0.850 and greater
IRC Class Z - 1.276 and greater Class 5 – Cruisers, Hull factor 7.5 or less
IRC Class 1 - 1.275 – 1.101 Class 6 – Classics Class (pre 1987)
IRC Class 2 - 1.100 – 1.051 Class 7 – Sigma 38 to Class Rules
IRC Class 3 - 1.050 – 1.007 Class 8 – Two-handed Class
IRC Class 4 – 1.006 - 0.850 Class 9 – TBA

2012 roundire


July 7-13 - Cork Week - Crosshaven, Co. Cork

From ghosting around the Harbour Course to surfing down Atlantic rollers, Cork Week provides a variety of courses to test any sailor. Cork Harbour and the Approaches form a magnificent stretch of water for all the competitors to enjoy and that is probably one of the primary reasons for the success of Cork Week.

Start:  Weavers Point fixed line, Cork Harbour entrance, west side.
VHF Channel:  Race Area:  Cork Harbour Inner and Outer

Around the Harbour Course there are big land effects, especially high ground causing wind shadow. Also tide can be a major consideration. Another area to pay special attention is west of the Spit Lighthouse where mud and old ballast are some of the hazards, especially at low tide.

Note there are two new marks for the Harbour Course in Ringabella Bay which will give the race officer the option to give a windward or leeward leg off the starting line.

Sailing area: Approx 3nm ESE of Roches Pt.

This course was introduced in 2008 and most of the competitors thought it was a great idea. It challenges them into gybing at a set point rather when they choose to. The professional boats may consider this not the best option but in a bit of breeze with a tight angle, the slalom course can become a bit of a challenge. Hardened pros or amateur sailors will have the same outcome, nailing your gybes on the slalom course is the way to make the gains.

Sailing Area:  Approx 3nm SSW of Roches Point.

Over the years RCYC has tried several different type of courses. With two races a day, it has found that the Olympic triangular course captivates people’s imagination. Once again, you are gybing at a place not of your choosing. If you are flying asymmetric spinnakers, you stand a decent chance in that race.

Race Area: Approx 3nm South West of Roches Point.

The course is a bit further offshore, away from the rest. You would tend to get a bit more ocean swell here which can be a factor, especially in a lot of breeze. For Cork Week, starting at 1100, the tide will be ebbing to the south-west, which could mean some wind over tide and there could be some bigger waves to surf down. Conventional pole set ups may have an advantage on the windward-leeward course, especially with the ability to pole back in light airs downwind and sail towards the mark.

Race Area:  Approx 3nm SSE of Roches Point  

This course is also offshore and the same possibilities apply as the windward-leeward course. I remember in 2008, IRC SZ had some big breeze on the Trapezoid Course. Over 20 knots on this course and there is some very thrilling sailing to be had, especially on the reach. The Trapezoid Course adds to the mix, whilst reaching may not be the most tactical point of sailing, the thrill of speed adds excitement to the week.

The last word
If you want to impress the race officer, avoid sailing across the bow of the flagship repeatedly! Especially when it is light and fluky and the Race Officer is trying to find out where to put his weather mark! A Race Officer who is persistently looking at a blue boat that is going backwards and forwards in front of him when he is trying to do a wind reading is much more likely to be spotted infringing on a starting line.

2012 corkweek


July 3 - VOR Stopover - Galway

Organisers for next year’s Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Galway have promised the event will be even “bigger and better” than the previous race visit in 2009.

John Killeen, president of Let’s Do It Galway, told the Galway Independent that he expects as many as 8,000 foreign visitors to the City of the Tribes next July.

Killeen was in Alicante on the Spanish Mediterranean for the week of events and in-port races leading up to the official start of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race.

The race is set to finish in Galway on Tuesday 3 July 2012, attracting the world’s media to Ireland’s fifth largest city for the final prize-giving.

Nimmo’s Pier will be the focus of entertainment facilities for the many thousands expected to throng the city as the six competing yachts complete their epic challenge.

“It’s a rare opportunity for Galway and Ireland to have the leverage of such an event and, if we don’t [use it to benefit Galway], it will be un-missible,” said Killeen.

2012 volvo


June 29 - July 1 - Clipper Race - Derry-Londonderry

Derry-Londonderry gears up to welcome Clipper teams with the city’s ‘largest ever maritime festival’

When the starting gun fired for the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race on 31 July 2011, the fleet of ten sleek, stripped-down 68-foot yachts embarked on a full circumnavigation of the globe. Ten crews made up of 450 non-professional sailors faced the challenge of a lifetime sailing 40,000 miles of ocean racing.

The fleet is due to arrive in Derry-Londonderry between 29 June and 1 July 2012 where they will be berthed at the New Marina Event Pontoon in the city centre on the River Foyle. During the week-long stopover after the transatlantic race from Nova Scotia, the crews and their visiting friends and family can look forward to an exciting programme of events and shoreside activities reflecting the warm hospitality of this bustling 6th century city.

Claire Lundy, Marketing and Communications Officer at Derry City Council, said the city was looking forward to welcoming the Clipper teams to “the largest maritime festival ever hosted in the city”.  

“As Derry-Londonderry gets ready to celebrate becoming the inaugural UK City of Culture 2013, the Clipper 11-12 teams can expect a world-class experience when they arrive in July 2012,” Lundy said.

The crew members taking part in Clipper 11-12 come from all walks of life, all backgrounds and from all corners of the globe. It’s not easy and only those with a firm desire to live life to the full apply.

2012 clipper


July 3 - ISAF Youth World Sailing Championships - Dublin Bay

With the experience of reconnaissance visits to three consecutive ISAF Youth World Sailing Championships, including Zadar, Croatia, in the summer, the organising team which is charged with delivering a memorable 2012 event on Dublin Bay is presently concentrated on the key building blocks which it is sure will contribute to the best possible regatta for competitors, visitors and the large army of volunteers who are already anticipating what Ireland will offer in 2012. Andi Roberston reports.

Top of the agenda presently is fine-tuning the comprehensive infrastructure set-up  and the logistical processes which will be the foundation of the event. Many of the small details which are being integrated into the programme now are the result of  experience of previous ISAF Youth World Sailing Championships, as well as the large number of major events which have been hosted by the constituent host clubs the Royal St. George and the National Yacht Clubs.

Brian Craig, chair of the organising team, recalls some of the observations in Croatia that the Irish hosts have been able to act on: “I have been to three Youth Worlds now and they are always different because of the venues, what the constraints of the site were, but we had our PRO Peter Crowley out there, we had Lucy Grant who will look after our ceremonies out there and Ciara Dowling and Don O’Dowd who will look after the shore side. People came and went at different stages. Our main guys have all been there and so all have a really good feel for the event”,  Craig  explains.

Dim lights

“What was good in Croatia, and is a target for all events, is that for the first time in a couple of years, they got in all  the races for all the classes. They built more flexibility into the race programme this time and I think that worked well. It was a challenge in the 420s where they did not have a full fleet, so in fairness it was handled well. We are confident we will have a full complement of boats for everyone and we have been working well with the Nautivela guys on that and we want to make sure that we are getting boats into the territory as well.”

Administration and processes

The initial interface with the event is vital. First impressions are lasting ones and Dublin Bay 2012 has been working hard on streamlining the administration processes so that they are largely all online - entry, registration and boat allocation - all being significantly streamlined:

Event Secretary Ciara Dowling explains: “We are working to have the entry and registration process all onine; we see a lot of things that we can do there to make life a lot easier for everybody. The NOR was approved at the ISAF Conference and we will be ready with an online entry imminently. That will streamline everything; I think that has been a source of a lot of efforts and ambiguity  in the past.”

“Our real focus is to have that communication with the MNAs, coaches and team leaders on a good level from the outset, so o we are actively in touch. So far,  so much has been passed down from year to year on a ‘this is how it was done before basis’ but I think there are ways we can improve on it. Next time around, there will be an ISAF solution to all that, I think. So we are happy to pilot that this time around. There is a lot of experience out there and we have had a lot of good help from the RYA with that side of things.”

Core communications

Being on site and active in Croatia and at previous youth events means the team has already built a strong, two-way relationship with a core group of international youth coaches who have been an invaluable source of advice and information, and allowed the early flow in information:

“There is a very strong group of 12 or 15 guys who go to the Youth Worlds
every year and we get on well with them and so we are working well with them to evolve this thing, trying to improve the communication with them. We have been in touch with them regularly already and we are going to stay in communication. There is real wealth of knowledge there and that was a good opportunity for those of us who were there for the whole time, so we got to know them well”, explains Craig.

Building a strong supplier relationship and future legacy. The full-scale buy-in of the boat and equipment suppliers is essential in ensuring that the boat availability is maximised in each of the classes. Dublin 2012 has been diligent in cultivating relationships which work for all parties. One key driver is ensuring that a maximum number of virtually new youth classes boats remain in Ireland, a strong platform for future success.

“Equipment manufacturers we are good with, we are well organised with them; they are committed and we have seen them all again since the last event, and so we are in good shape. That side has worked well”, continues Craig.

“We are working with manufacturers and making really sure of the supply of the boats so that we have a legacy - a lot of the boats will remain in Ireland and we will be running clinics during the regatta with the manufacturers, that sort of thing, that’ll be part of the legacy.”

Complementary preliminary events

The Irish Youth National Championships are being run to dovetail with the RYA British Youth Nationals which will be in Pwllheli, Wales – a ferry journey away.

“It will be Pwllheli week before Easter and ours the week after and so there are a lot of overseas nations interested; we are marketing both events in tandem so that teams will do the RYA British Youth Nationals the week before and then come to us, and vice versa.”
“Some countries, like the Kiwis, for example, and the whole British squad have already committed to come here. That’ll be great for us, as it gives a great dry run. We had 350 boats last year and it will be bigger this time. It is a four-day event. There is a good ferry link across - we are working with the ferry companies - and we have a host programme for sailors who want to stay with local families.

Media and commercial aspects given a boost

A challenge in Croatia was taking up the baton of running the first event with no major global sponsor, such as previous sponsors Volvo:

“One difficulty in Zadar was the media and commercial side with no Volvo as sponsor, so that left a hole on that side for them. We would hope to wind up that side of a lot more. It felt more local event which has its positive sides, for sure; it went very well and felt like a very good atmosphere, within a yacht club feel.”

“Ours will still have a very strong yacht club feel. We will have a meet-and-greet  programme with families and sailors meeting teams as they arrive to really make  them feel at home and there is a big opportunity to develop that side”.

On a local basis at the moment, Dublin 2012 is working on the commercial and sponsorship side of the event, rolling out publicity and communication with all the yacht clubs and junior organisations around Ireland, building the programmes for clubs and organisations to come to the event and get involved.

“One thing we see a real opportunity for is bringing in some of the youth squads and coaches into the event”, concludes Craig, “ We aim to bring top coaches from around Ireland and place them on the water with international coaches, and things like that, get some young Irish sailors integrated with the event a lot more, in small numbers and in a selective way, so that the youth sections of the clubs around the country really are involved and there is a good, lasting legacy. They can be inspired and
really feel part of the event and we have seen loads of ways of doing that.

We are building those programmes, we are building the awareness around the yacht clubs, we are buttoning down our sponsorships and really getting the technical side in place and signed off by ISAF so that we are ready to go at the end of the month.

By Christmas, we should have information to all the MNAs with online entries and  everything will be ready to roll.”

2012 isaf


June 9 - July 7 - Dun Laoghaire Club Regattas - Dun Laoghaire

The four Dun Laoghaire waterfront Yacht Clubs have released their sailing regatta dates for 2012. In spite of many other racing fixtures on the Bay the waterfront regattas remain a traditional favourite starting with the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club event on Saturday, June 9th.

Dun Laoghaire Yacht Club Regatta Calendar

Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club Regatta - 9th June
National Yacht Club Regatta - 23rd June
Royal Irish Yacht Club Regatta - 30th June
Royal St. George Yacht Club Regatta - 7th July

July 11 - 14 - WIORA - Foynes YC, Shannon


Foynes YC to Host 2012 WIORA West Coast Championships

As a flagship event to mark its 50th year of sailing on the Shannon Estuary,  Foynes Yacht Club are setting an aggressive target to attract 50 boats to next year’s West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) sailing championships to be held from the 11th to 14th of July. The WIORA poster is below.

Ed Conway and Raymond McGibney are flying the flag for Foynes having being recently re-elected to the WIORA committee for another year.

IRC, ECHO and White Sails classes will be raced and the club says a festival atmosphere ashore will be ‘guaranteed with well-priced, quality catering and top class live entertainment’ provided at the recently-renovated clubhouse.

All boats entered will be given free and secure berthing. Free lift-in/lift-out of trailer sailors will also be arranged.  Liam Dineen has been appointed OOD and already over forty boats have registered.

In addition to all Western clubs, Foynes will be canvassing sailors from the active racing fleet on Lough Derg to come by road or river to join in this celebration sailing event, last held in Foynes in 1998.

While standard “around the cans” windward-leeward courses will be laid for the IRC and Echo fleets, more varied courses for white sails will be set, taking yachts to all parts of the scenic estuary. A special section is currently being added to the club website to cover all aspects of the event.


June 9 - August 25 - Belfast Lough Regatta Dates

Provisional dates for the 2012 Belast Lough Yachting Conference (BLYC) Regattas have been announced.

The BLYC encompasses all yacht clubs on Belfast Lough and Larne Lough and co-ordinates their individual events.

The interim schedule for 2012 runs to nine events from Saturday 9 June to Saturday 25 August:

    Sat 9 June - Royal Ulster Yacht Club
    Sat 23 June - Ballyholme Yacht Club
    Sat 7 July - Holywood Yacht Club
    Sat 21 July - East Antrim Boat Club
    Sat 28 July - County Antrim Yacht Club
    Sat 4 August - Cockle Island Boat Club
    Sat 11 August - North of Ireland Yacht Club
    Sat 18 August - Donaghadee Sailing Club
    Sat 25 August - Carrickfergus Sailing Club


August 23 - Tall Ships - Dublin

Eighteen vessels are on the entry list for the 2012 Tall Ships Races which are set to conclude in Dublin Port next August.

The list is dominated by British entries, with all nine UK Tall Ships expected to sail the third and final leg from A Coruña in northern Spain to Dublin.

Tall Ships from Russia, Poland, France, Ecuador, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia and Belgium will also be in the fray when Ireland's capital hosts the final port of call for the 2012 races, presented by Szczecin in Poland and organised by Sail Training International - a charity established to harness sail training to develop and educate young people regardless of nationality, culture, religion, gender or social background.

The first leg of the 2012 races kicks off in Saint-Malo, France on 7 July with ships racing to Lisbon in Portugal (till 21 July); Cádiz in southern Spain (21-28 July) and La Coruña (28 July-12 August) before the final leg.

Dublin will be hosting the Tall Ships Races for the first time since 1998. Earlier this year,  Eamonn O’Reilly, CEO of Dublin Port Company, said he was “delighted to welcome the Tall Ships Races to Dublin Port" in 2012.

Since the announcement, the port has already played host to the British Tall Ship Tenacious and the Norwegian vessel S/S Statsraad Lehmkuhl.

From Thursday 23 to Sunday 26 August 2012, as many as 100 ships are expected to arrive in the port and Docklands area for an event that includes a four-day festival programme of music, food and fashion showcases, markets, street theatre, water sport and water-based activities.

The weekend will also feature activities unique to the races including a crew parade, prize-giving event and a parade of sail.

Are you looking to get involved in Dublin's hosting of the Tall Ships Races? Check out the following Links:

Become a trainee

Take part as a volunteer

For further information see or e-mail [email protected]

Entry List for the Tall Ships Races 2012:

Akela (Russia)
Black Diamond Of Durham (UK)
Dar Mlodziezy (Poland)
Etoile Polaire (France)
Guayas (Ecuador)
Johanna Lucretia (UK)
John Laing (UK)
Kaliakra (Bulgaria)
Lord Nelson (UK)
Maybe (UK)
Moosk (UK)
Pelican Of London (UK)
Pogoria (Poland)
Rona II (UK)
Spaniel (Latvia)
St Iv (Estonia)
Thermopylae Clipper (UK)
Tomidi (Belgium)


November 2 - ISAF World Conference - Dun Laoghaire, Dublin

Ireland high on the agenda at ISAF Annual Conference in Puerto Rico

Ireland was high on the agenda at the 2011 International Sailing Federation (ISAF) conference in Puerto Rico with positive reporting on the ISAF Team Racing World Championships which were hosted by the Fastnet Marine & Outdoor Education Centre in Schull, West Cork in September 2011 and plans for the hosting of the ISAF Youth Worlds in Dublin Bay 12-21 July 2012 followed by the ISAF Annual Conference.

The world of sailing will gather in Dun Laoghaire from 01-11 November 2012 for the annual conference of sailing’s international governing authority. This major international conference will close the Irish sailing year after a busy season which includes two world races visiting the island, the Youth World Sailing Championships, Round Ireland, Cork Week, Dragon Gold Cup & the Tall Ships Race not to mention hundreds of national, regional and local events which will be held around the country.

Ireland has a growing reputation for hosting international events due to the commitment of club volunteers who organise these events and the success of the ISA’s race management development programme. The hosting of international events raises the profile of sailing in Ireland and shows the value of sailing as a sport. With 700 of the key decision makers in world sailing attending the conference there is a real opportunity to sell Ireland as a sailing destination, promote the sport and protect the interests of Irish Sailors.

ISAF is made up of Members, such as Ireland’s ISA, representing around 130 countries. Council, chaired by President, Göran Petersson, makes decisions on submissions received from Members and Classes after receiving technical advice from a range of committees whose members will travel from all over the globe to be in Dun Laoghaire. Ireland has been represented on the Council for the last four years by John Crebbin and is supported on ISAF committees by Cathy MacAleavey, Bill O’Hara and Harry Hermon who have been instrumental in representing Irish sailing internationally.  

Also in attendance will be sailors, event organisers, class associations, boat manufacturers and many more. Those in attendance will discuss debate, give recommendations and make decisions on the issues and policies that will take sailing forward to 2016.

Ireland is hosting the conference for the first time and it will be held in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire with the local clubs being utilised for breakout meetings and dining during the 10 day conference. The conference is self-financing and is supported by Fáilte Ireland, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Royal Marine Hotel, and Fitzpatrick’s Castle Hotel.

The highlight of the event will be the hosting of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2012, the highest award a sailor can receive in recognition of his/her outstanding achievements as nominated by the world of sailing. The Awards are presented to one male and one female nominee. As it will be an Olympic year, the top Olympians will be expected to travel to Dublin for the gala event.

Published in Boating Fixtures Team

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